Quidditch: A game even muggles can enjoy

If you thought Quidditch was a fictional sport played only in the imaginations of Harry Potter fans, you’re sorely mistaken. EMU’s Quidditch team members assemble in the Rec/IM wearing their purple Flying Squirrels jerseys with matching purple hoops and team brooms in tow.

“There are naturally the inside jokes, like about how most people laugh when they first hear about Quidditch because they visualize a bunch of Harry Potter nerds running about awkwardly playing a game, but the reality is that we are a cohesive group of athletes playing a full contact sport,” coach Chad Brisbois said.

Since the weather’s gotten worse and the sky has gotten darker, practices have been moved from Frog Island, a neighborhood park, to the third floor of the Rec/IM. Practice is held from 9:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. on Mondays and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursdays.

“It’s fun to see all the disgruntled basketball players leave when we come in with our brooms and kick them out,” Derek Miceli said.

Practice starts with drills such as push-ups and sit ups. The second half entails game-based training, and the last half hour is dedicated to a scrimmage. Training for the team includes grueling cardio fitness. Team members are required to go on a team run at least once a week and sometimes run five flights of stairs.

Miceli gave an explanation of the game for people who are unversed in Harry Potter culture. “We’re a group of strong athletic lads and lasses and basically we play what’s called Muggle Quidditch… which is Quidditch without the flying. We run around on brooms.”

Quidditch is a full contact sport that allows tackling and checking. There are three hoops, one high, one medium and one low, and the “chasers” try to get the ball in the hoop. Each team has three chasers on the pitch, or field, at any given time.

The three chasers are accompanied by three “beaters” who throw balls at players of the other team. If you’re hit with what’s called a “blugder,” you have to go back and touch your hoops.

The goal is to get the ball, or quaffle, in the hoop, via foot, hand or any number of methods. A “keeper,” or goalie, tries to stop people from scoring.

While all this is going on, there’s a “snitch” and “seekers.” The seekers try to catch the snitch, who runs around with a flag that the other team wants to obtain.

“I’m just a guy who throws the ball in the hoop,” Miceli said. “It makes sense when you see it.”

In November of 2010, the Harry Potter Book Club incorporated outside players in their games and Eastern Michigan’s Quidditch team was born.
“It’s a lot more intense than you think. People tend to think since it’s out of a book that it can’t be that serious,” Miceli said. “It’s just a nerd’s fantasy. But it’s harder than it looks. There’s a physical aspect to it. It’s basically rugby and soccer combined.”

The game is a combination of many popular sports like soccer, dodgeball, basketball and football, plus it’s running intensive.

“I’m on the team because it’s a great work out. It’s exhausting running across the pitch,” player Quentin Turner said. “Plus, it’s a creative sport.”

The team competes in monthly scrimmages and looks forward to a tournament in Louisiana approaching in mid February.

“We have been to every Quidditch World Cup since our founding in 2010. We compete with teams from many different universities, such as U of M, Ohio State and MSU,” Chad Brisbois said. “The Flying Squirrels Quidditch team was the second team in Michigan following MSU, and similarly, the second most successful.”

Derek Miceli recommends the team for “anyone who’s looking for a way to break away from the norm, something that’s not basketball or football.”
“Granted they’re fun, but this is different and you still get a work out,” Miceli said. “The first time I played I was breathing heavy after the first two minutes. I wasn’t really into Harry Potter, but if you are, it’s cool.”

The team is welcoming to new members of all calibers. “Our roster has almost tripled in the past year, now sitting at nearly 60, reflecting our hard work and increasing popularity of the sport,” Brisbois said.

“If you’re afraid people will judge you for joining the Quidditch team, you should grow a pair and put on your big boy pants,” Miceli said. “It’s Quidditch, snitch!”

J.K Rowling would be proud.

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